Westonka Public Schools announce candidates, discuss athletic policy concerns

by Nicole Brodzik
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The Westonka School Board meeting for August started off with a lively discussion about athletics policies, prompted by a question from Heather Kryck. Kryck is the mother of two daughters in the district and asked the school board about some inconsistencies she heard about when it came to policies in the school board, especially when it comes to captaincy and alcohol policy.

”I keep hearing conflicting things,” she said, concerning students getting caught with substance violations. “Who are those athletes, because I hear they’re doing these things and keeping their titles.”

School Board Chair David Botts said that the district has a zero tolerance policy and that he doesn’t believe there are coaches who are approving of that kind of misconduct.

Student Representative Zach Riffle said he’s heard stories of students getting citations for drinking, but said it doesn’t always get reported to coaches or the athletic department.

“I think there are kids out there who do get minors and those aren’t reported to the school so unfortunately there’s a loophole there,” he said.

“I think that’s a good point, we aren’t a following up on all the rumors that come out,” Botts said. “I know that we have very good working relationships with the police departments. I think it is pretty routine that this goes to the athletic department. If you have first hand knowledge of this happening, you should first go to the athletic staff, if you’re not happy there, you can go to the principal or superintendent.”

The council also approved the ballot measures for four open council seats in the November election.

“We have two different elections being held this fall,” Botts said. “One is to fill the remaining term of Ann Bremer’s seat. Then we have the three other open seats.”
After the end of the withdrawal period on Thursday, Aug. 17, the list of candidates running for four open school board seats this November was announced. Three of those seats are for four-year terms, while the fourth is a two-year term that was created by the death of former Vice Chair Ann Bremer, who passed away in February. Currently, that seat is being held my interim board member Heidi Marty.

Marty is running for the full time position of council member in that two-year term along with newcomer Chris Carlson. There are four candidates running for the three four-year openings, including incumbents Loren Davis and Gary Wollner. They are being challenged by Brian Carlson and Jake Mazurek.

The board also approved a ballot question for the November election, asking residents to approve a $453.54 per student referendum that is set to expire at the end of 2017.
”I’m happy to say that is a slight price decrease,” Botts said. “Can it say that on the ballot?”

Botts said that it is not an additional amount, but a continuation of the current referendum.

The last conversation of the night was about an action item that approved of the formation of a Mound Westonka High School affiliated debate team. Prospective Coach Andrea Gormley was at the meeting to explain why that affiliation was necessary.

“We do have to have Westonka High School affiliation to be part of the tournament,” Gormley said. “We held an interest meeting last spring with about 18 kids. The speech coach is excited about the prospect of having a debate team. In order to get things started, we threw together this action item.”

Botts said he was on the debate team at his high school and college and said he thought it would be a great addition to the district. The council voted unanimously to approve that affiliation.

The next Westonka School Board meeting will be held on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.